Alex Salmond, the Scottish First Minister, had promised the ceremony would "show the world the very best of Scotland", and on that count it amply delivered, so long as your definition of the country's greatest output includes pipers, dancing Tunnock's teacakes, Scottie dogs and Susan Boyle singing Mull of Kintyre. It was a typically Glaswegian night out. There was dancing, singalongs and chairs being birled around while a drove of wee dogs scuttled around oblivious to the bedlam. The most illuminative moments, however, came when tumult fell silent and the city revealed to the world its tender heart with a minute’s respectful silence for the victims of the Malaysian plane shot down over Ukraine.
In the end, the headline performances and celebrity names were overshadowed by the little moments. Yes, there was Ewan MacGregor and James McAvoy, Sir Alex Ferguson and Rod Stewart. Even theBig Yin himself (Billy Connolly) put in an appearance. But none held a torch to the young volunteer dancer who grinned as he partook in the Games’ first gay kiss in front of the Commonwealth’s heads of state, or the lyric soprano who grew up in apartheid South Africa performing a plaintive rendition of Hamish Henderson’s Freedom Come All Ye. Glasgow gave a stage to them and many more. There was even a return for one of the nation’s sporting heroes, when Sir Chris Hoy presented the Games baton to the Queen, having been handed it by Andy Coogan, the retired cyclist’s 97-year-old great uncle, a former Japanese prisoner of war credited with sparking his great-nephew’s interest in sport.
Blink and you would have missed other implausible chapters of history being written, such as Celtic Park - bathed in blue light - ringing to the verses of God Save the Queen, or fossilised footage of The White Heather Club merging divinely into squawking electro of Calvin Harris. In a printed itinerary, it seemed unwieldy folly; in practice, it was the most curious of triumphs. To one side, by a vast 48 tonne LED screen spanning the length of the stadium’s South Stand which beamed a smorgasbord of Scottish landscapes, a scale model of the Forth Rail Bridge - its three double cantilevers buttressed by Irn Bru cans - towered above golf trolleys and clumps of heather. On the opposite flank - separated by a Duke of Wellington statue and a likeness of the Finnieston Crane - was a stockpile of comically large Tunnocks teacakes and shortbread versions of the Standing Stones of Callanish.
As each team was led into the arena by a Scottie dog, the ceremony’s core purpose was unveiled, courtesy of six videos produced in association with UNICEF. The footage was powerful yet unsentimental, with ordinary Scots telling of the children’s charities everyday work. Emotion ran high, too, when judoka Euan Burton brought the parade to an end as he led Team Scotland into the arena. With that came the return of the Cockney bard and adopted Weegie, Rod Stewart, with Can’t Stop Me Now, a song from his latest album. At its climax, Glasgow 2014 gave centre stage toUNICEF. Sir Chris and McAvoy urged spectators to donate just £5 towards its Children of the Commonwealth Fund via text. The crowd held aloft a sea of phones, imploring those at home to follow suit. It was among the most powerful junctures of the night, a quintessentially Glaswegian moment of dogged compassion. A closing coda featured Nicola Benedetti accompanied by the Big Noise Orchestra before Glasgow nearly exploded as Billy Connolly spoke in a video of Glasgow’s unquenchable desire for social justice, not least by supporting the cause of the late Nelson Mandela. If you want to donate to the UNICEF's Children of the Commonwealth Fund, just text FIRST to 70333 to give £5 and Put Children First!!
17 sports will be played over 11 days of competition at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games from 23rd July to 3rd August 2014. 10 of these are core sports, spots that are always played and their medals competed for. 7 are selected by the host city from a choice of sixteen, making an interesting and varied programme. Glasgow has selected its 7 additional sports, they are: Aquatics, Athletics, Badminton, Boxing, Cycling, Gymnastics, Hockey, Judo, Lawn Bowls, Netball, Rugby Sevens, Shooting, Squash, Table Tennis, Triathlon, Weightlifting and Wrestling.
And the Games will provide a considerable legacy to the people of Glasgow as well. More than 7000 competitors and officials have poured into the Athletes’ Village in Dalmarnock. Covering the equivalent of 54 football pitches, at its busiest there will be more than 10,000 people on site. When the medals are all handed out, 700 homes will remain as the permanent legacy organisers hope will act as a catalyst for regeneration in the East End of Glasgow.
Well at least 52 of our Members and guests missed the first two hours of the Opening Ceremony, but they arrived home after our regular Club Night at the Oxshott Bridge Club just in time to see the arrival in the stadium of the Scottish team in their new tartan uniforms!! You can read all about the evening's play in the Report by clicking on the "News" tab in the Menu to the left of this box. Alternatively you can study the full Leaderboard and the individual Travellers by clicking on the "Latest Result" button at the top right of this page.